It started in the Great Hall. Just a coincidence. Although, that’s how most things happen. They just happened to catch eyes. It was just a glimpse. A mere nanosecond. Not even big enough to be a blip on a timeline. It was nothing. At least, that’s what they told themselves.
“Toast and kippers! I love toast and kippers!” Ron lunged for the plate in the middle of table, accidentally knocking over a goblet of pumpkin juice.
“Ron!” Hermione shrieked as she stood up. Amber juice was sloshed down the front of her robes and on her bookbag.
“Oh, Hermione, sorry,” Ron said, blushing. He piled his plate with food. “But you know what would cheer you up? Toast. And kippers too.” His smile faded when he saw Hermione’s angry face.
Hermione groaned inwardly. Today was not a good day. She could already tell. She had been late getting up, her Potions essay was not up to her standards, and it was due today. She grabbed her soaked bookbag and turned to head towards the bathroom. She glanced at everyone else in the hall, hoping no one had noticed what Ron’s clumsiness had caused. She sighed. One person had. But she wouldn’t give him the benefit of her blushing. Instead, she made her way out to the empty bathroom and began mopping up her things.
“Turn in your Potions homework now! Longbottom, put away the quill. This was assigned last week. If you were too busy making up for your other classes, then that is just too bad,” Snape sneered as he swept across the dungeon. The Slytherins laughed as Neville turned bright red and slowly put away his quill. Harry growled.
“He was just writing notes for the class!” he whispered to Hermione. She smiled slightly. Harry always wanted to stand up for the underdog. After all, he was a bit of an underdog himself too. It was very noble of him.
Snape walked in front of their table and collected their essays. “A bit short, don’t you think, Ms. Granger?” he noted as he picked hers up. Hermione felt her ears get warm. “Ah well, if you think it is good enough…” he emphasized the word ‘good’ as he walked towards the next table. She knew that it wasn’t good enough, but that was all she had. She hated feeling inadequate. It didn’t help that the Slytherins were, as usual, laughing at Snape’s taunting of the Gryffindors. It was an unfair situation, but there was nothing that Hermione could do. She hated feeling useless, too.
When the bell rang, Harry and Ron and the rest of the Gryffindors high-tailed it out of the dungeon to go to dinner. However, Hermione was delayed when she accidentally dropped her notebook, which caused a sheaf of notes to flutter all around her. The rest of Slytherins walked by her to the door, sniggering. “Good job, mudblood,” she heard one mutter.
She started to gather up the papers, as once again she could feel her cheeks redden. What’s that, four times today?, she thought to herself. As she was down on her hands and knees grabbing at papers, a pair of hands entered her line of vision and started helping her. She looked up and was shocked to find Draco Malfoy. His usual sneer was replaced by a look of blandness. He didn’t meet her eyes, but instead just gathered up papers.
“These are good notes,” he murmured quietly.
“What?” Hermione asked, not sure if she heard correctly.
“I said these are good notes,” he repeated louder. “They have a lot of information in them.” He met her eyes as he said this.
She stared into his stormy eyes. Had he really said a whole sentence to her that didn’t contain the word mudblood? “Oh…thanks,” was the best she could come up with. They gathered the rest and stood up. He handed her his stack and she stuffed them back into her notebook. She hooked her bag on her right shoulder and left the classroom, walking towards the Great Hall. Seeing something in her peripheral vision, she was surprised to see Draco walking next to her, matching stride for stride. They walked in silence for a bit.
Hermione was worried. She felt she should say something, because it seemed to be an awkward silence. But what would she talk about? How she had hated him since she came to Hogwarts? How he had made her life a living hell whenever he teased her? She sneaked a glance at him again. He seemed to be content to walk in silence. Fine. That suited her.
They reached the Great Hall. The sounds of clinking utensils and chatter reached her ears. Right outside of it, Draco stopped. Hermione turned and looked at him.
“Well, I’ll see you tomorrow,” he stated plainly, looking her straight in the eye.
“Er, yes. Breakfast, and class…” she said hesitantly.
“Alright. Goodbye.” And with that, he walked towards the Slytherin
table. She watched him as he sat down between Crabbe and Goyle, acting as if nothing was different. She stared at him a few moments longer, and then joined her own house table, in silence. She barely heard a word Ron or Harry said. She needed to think things over.